I grew up in a Christian denomination called the Church of the Brethren. It was about as nonliturgical a church as one could find. Holy Communion was offered just twice a year. When I was 16, I discovered the Episcopal Church because I was offered a part time job as an organist in a small inner city parish. Life was never the same after that. I fell in love with the church’s sacraments, liturgy, music, teaching, intellectual curiosity, polity, and people which have sustained me through good times and bad. The church that welcomed me, like all mainline denominations, is now at a crossroads. How can we sustain all that we love about the church, maintain a sense of connection and community, and be faithful to our baptismal promises in the midst and aftermath of a world wide pandemic. It ain’t easy. Smaller churches (50 or fewer people) face closure, merger, and an urgent challenge of finding new and innovative ways to do ministry. Larger churches must also find new and innovative ways to do ministry. For most of us, we think the new normal means preserving every last morsel of the old normal. Such an approach is unrealistic. But where there is challenge, there is opportunity. St. Paul’s is not unfamiliar with challenge. With God’s help and the prayers and perseverance of the faithful, this church moved from being a small, struggling parish to being the thriving, growing parish it is today. There is no reason it cannot remain a thriving, growing parish. Wilmington is a thriving, growing city. The baby boomer generation is retiring, searching for places like Wilmington to live fully into the next chapter of their lives. Wilmington will need a work force to support its growing population, and that work force will be made up of younger families and singles hungry for a place to find community, love, and connection. The harvest is plentiful.
St. Paul’s is always exploring ways to maintain and grow a sense of community, love, and connection in the face of the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 virus. Our Lay Eucharistic Visitors are offering Eucharist on Sundays at outdoor house church gatherings. If you want to receive Communion, please call the LEV geographically closest to you. We have started an outdoor Children’s Eucharist on Sunday mornings. The Parish Life Committee is generating ideas for better meeting the needs of our parishioners. Please join us at Longleaf Park on September 13 at 10:30 a.m. for Worship and a Parish Picnic. We ask that you wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and bring a lawn chair. A catered meal is being provided. Use this link to make your reservation.
The Strategic Plan that the Vestry has adopted is a way for St. Paul’s to position itself to help meet the needs of a changing church in a changing world. It asks us to consider fundamental questions for our future ministry. Who are we? What is God calling us to do and to be? Identifying optimal ways to use our facilities, finances, and human resources will help provide answers to those questions.
In this Sunday’s epistle lesson, our patron Paul spells out the core values that will help us live into the abundant life God promises us no matter what circumstances we face. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. Bless those who persecute you; rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. So far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Keep the faith! Be safe.
Don’t forget that are Lay Eucharistic Visitors are available to bring you Communion in safe outside locations on Sunday afternoons. If you want to receive Communion, please call the LEV geographically closest to you.
Don Brainard firstname.lastname@example.org
(678) 521-1046 – Zip Code 28403
Chip Carter email@example.com
(919) 616-1330 – Zip Code 28451
Herbert Gant firstname.lastname@example.org
(910) 398-4089 – Zip Code 28401
Kathryn & Royster Hedgepeth email@example.com
(910) 399-5905 – Zip Code 28409
Matthew Langley firstname.lastname@example.org
(910) 352-4628 – Zip Code 28405
Richard Laudati email@example.com
(910) 520-3210 – Zip Code 28403
Joan Rosko Miller firstname.lastname@example.org
(910) 398-0301 – Zip Code 28451
Cynthia Smallwood email@example.com
(914) 318-7762 – Zip Code 28451
Susan Sramek firstname.lastname@example.org
(408) 781-9123 – Zip Code 28451
David Tousignant email@example.com
(484) 883-9594 – Zip Code 28451
Cheryl Wagoner firstname.lastname@example.org
(910) 386-9019 – Zip Code 28409